A new program has energized the auto market across the country as people rush to trade in their clunkers for cash. The government will give up to $4500 to people willing to trade in their old clunker car and buy a new one. The advantages are many; an old car that gets poor gas mileage, pollutes the air with emissions, with all of its worn out problems is taken off the road for good. In exchange for their old clunker, the consumer gets a new car that gets great gas mileage (saving the consumer money), doesn’t pollute the air, but actually improves it (compared to the old clunker), and that actually has a warranty for up to 100,000 miles. They save money on gas and on car repairs.
So many people have taken advantage of the program, that it has run out 0f funds in only a month’s time. Now the Senate is being encouraged to join the House in extending the program with an additional $2 Billion. It could mean another 500,000 clunkers being taken off the roads and replaced with reliable energy efficient, environmentally friendly cars. Quite a chunk of change for clunkers no matter how you look at it.
I was reminded of quite a change that took place in my life at my 35th high school class reunion. One of my friends who had not seen me for 35 years asked me, “Did you ever become a preacher like you thought back in school?” Well, so much for my ambition to become a world-famous Preacher? I smiled and told my dear friend that yes, I finally became a preacher. What I didn’t say was why I smiled when I said it. For my friend, she was pleased with what she perceived as my personal achievement in my chosen profession. For me, it was a reminder of the great work God has done in my life.
Like most of you, the person I know best is me. I know all of my positive traits and characteristics. But I also know all of my negative traits and character flaws. And when I look at who I am and where I could very well have ended up, my soul is flooded with gratitude and praise to God. I am a perfect example of God making change for clunkers. For a long time I have struggled with the balance between grace, faith, and works. I grew up trying to follow all the rules and do my best to be pleasing to God and people. And yet, God has been slowly working and changing me. Like Paul, I have discovered that all of my efforts to please are nothing but rubbish or as the Scripture literally puts it “dung”. The harder I try, the more I stink things up. My efforts to please and be good simply do nothing but pollute the air and waste energy. They get me absolutely no where (Zero miles per gallon.) My life is a clunker that gets no where fast, pollutes the air, and is practically worn out before it ever gets started.
Paul says in Philippians that he has found real life through giving up all of his self-righteous works. Life for Paul is bound up in “the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Paul goes on to say that his life’s desire is now to “know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.” For today, let’s just consider the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ. In my journey I have discovered Paul’s joy: knowing Christ. This is the key to the Christian life. Everything is based on knowing Jesus. So my goal in life is to go ever deeper into an intimate and loving relationship with Jesus. I want to know everything about Him. My quest leads me to worship, love, service, sacrifice, and giving myself to the One who loves me most. It ceases to be about me. It is all about Jesus.
Here is the key to God’s plan of change for clunkers like you and me. It is not about rules, disciplines, practices, or principles. It is about our relationship with Jesus. His love motivates us to do all these other things not to earn anything from God, but to express our love and devotion to Him. These are simple expressions and actions of our being in a right relationship with God through our faith in Jesus.
How about you? Has your Christian walk become a clunker? Would you like some change for your clunker? Put Jesus back at the center of your life. Begin today becoming more and more Christ focused. May our wish become that of Paul’s in Philippians 3:10: “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection…” Do you really want to know Christ? The cliche is old and perhaps worn out but still rings true: Know Christ; Know Change. No Christ; No Change. Are you ready for a change? I am.